Utilizing an new imaging technique, researchers from UCLA have discovered the brains of retired professional football players who had suffered concussions possess a pattern of abnormal protein deposits much like those found in patients with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is really a condition that affects athletes in touch sports who experience repetitive brain injuries, the researchers explained, which is believed to cause memory loss, confusion, personality changes, tremor as well as suicidal behavior in former players.
Building upon previous research in the university, the new UCLA study (which was published within the journal PNAS on Monday) uses a imaging tool called a positron emission tomography or PET scan in conjunction with a chemical sell to look for patters of protein deposits on the brain.
PET had previously been successfully tested on five retired Nfl players in a 2013 study, and the new information found the same characteristic pattern in a greater number of ex-players. Furthermore, the research also demonstrated that the brain imaging patterns of individual who had suffered concussions is different than the ones from healthy people and Alzheimer\’s patients.
Senior author Dr. Jorge Barrio, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and his colleagues think that the findings may help lead to improved identification of CTE in athletes. They are also hopeful the study will lead to the development and testing of treatments to delay the progression of such brain disorders.
At this time, it is just easy to diagnose CTE following an autopsy. To recognize the disorder, doctors look for an amount of a specific abnormal protein referred to as tau within the areas of the mind that regulate mood, cognitive ability and motor function. Tau is also one sort of abnormal protein deposit found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer\’s, though inside a different pattern.
\”The distribution pattern from the abnormal brain proteins, primarily tau, noticed in these PET scans, presents a \’fingerprint\’ characteristic of CTE,\” Dr. Barrio explained. He and his fellow researchers identified four stages of deposits that may signify early to advanced levels of the disease C a finding which might make it easier to track how CTE develops and progresses.
The new study uses 5 subjects in the earlier study in addition to nine new former players, all whom had sustained at least one concussion over their careers. They underwent PET and MRI scans, neuropsychological testing and other examinations, and their outcome was compared with the ones from 19 women and men with healthy brains, and 24 who had Alzheimer\’s.
\”We discovered that the imaging pattern in people with suspected CTE differs significantly from healthy volunteers and those with Alzheimer\’s dementia,\” said co-author Dr. Julian Bailes, the director from the Brain Injury Research Institute and chairman from the neurosurgery department at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. \”These results suggest that this brain scan may also be helpful like a test to distinguish trauma-related cognitive issues from those caused by Alzheimer\’s disease.\”